To keep the public up-to-date about coronavirus facts 24/7, WHO and WhatsApp are partnering to bring free alerts to WhatsApp users.
WhatsApp coronavirus alerts from WHO will be free
The new alerts, called "WHO Health Alerts," will be free for WhatsApp members and anyone who downloads and uses WhatsApp. It will answer questions about COVID-19 and update the public with new case numbers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In this age of misinformation, it's all too easy to believe false statements and inaccuracies published on the internet. The internet is a marketplace for everyone to publish their ideas, true or not. Often, information is published to reach the public that may be far from the truth.
The free service will provide information on myths surrounding coronavirus, how users can protect themselves, social distancing, the latest coronavirus news, and what to do in the event users aren't feeling well.
WhatsApp users wanting to get WHO Health alerts can add the number +41 79 893 1892 in their phone contacts, then text "Hi" to the number in a WhatsApp message. Users can also visit whatsapp.com/coronavirus and click on the "WHO" link to chat with WHO Health Alert.
WHO Health Alerts on WhatsApp are launching in all six United Nations languages (Spanish, Russian, Chinese, French, Arabic, and English) in the coming weeks. The service will launch in English initially, with what will be a quick rollout for the sake of the progress of the coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook as truth defender in the COVID-19 pandemic
Facebook is taking its role seriously as truth defender in the COVID-19 pandemic. The disease is proving to be more deadly than influenza. Influenza kills lots of people each year. The coronavirus pandemic is proving it's more lethal than influenza.
Whereas influenza kills 0.5-1% of Americans each year, COVID-19 has already killed more than 8,000 people with 200,000 infections globally. COVID-19 now has a death rate of 3.4%, making it 3-6 times more deadly than influenza.
WhatsApp is providing free WHO Health Alerts for its users. Facebook, WhatsApp's parent company, is also giving WHO free ad space on Facebook to fight the lethal global disease.
Though the company's automated spam service needs some work (marking legitimate COVID-19 news articles as spam), it doesn't outweigh Facebook's efforts to combat the disease itself and the societal preoccupation with false information.
Facebook is not alone in its truth defense. Fellow tech giant and rival Google is stepping up its role as well. Google's YouTube is making YouTube an accurate news outlet for the latest COVID-19 news.